Pakinstan: Health ministry puts tobacco manufacturers on notice

Pakinstan: Health ministry puts tobacco manufacturers on notice

The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has issued notices to at least 10 tobacco manufacturers, including a multinational company, over violation of tobacco advertisement guidelines.

Health Director General Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai told Dawn that these companies were involved in marketing tobacco products through social media and other means.

“Moreover, they had hired children who were distributing pamphlets and streamers among people in the markets. We have issued notices to the companies and after 10 days legal action will be started. Fines up to Rs3 million each can be imposed on the companies,” he said.

While replying to a question, Dr Achakzai said that the action has been taken on the directions of the interim health minister. “The minister is very much serious about the health of people, especially of the young[er] generation,” he claimed. According to a statement, the ministry remained steadfast in its dedication to ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens.

Companies can face up to Rs3 million in fines, legal consequences
“In line with this commitment, the ministry has taken a resolute stand against violations of tobacco control laws by well-known tobacco manufacturers. As the guardian of public health protection and regulation in Pakistan, the ministry has issued official notices to several prominent tobacco manufacturers for alleged breaches of tobacco advertisement guidelines stipulated under Section 7 of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002,” it stated.

“Exercising its mandate to establish a tobacco-free environment and safeguard non-smokers from the harmful effects of tobacco consumption, the Government of Pakistan introduced S.R.O.72(I)/2020 on January 30, 2020, pursuant to section 7…[which]explicitly prohibits tobacco or tobacco product advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship through diverse mediums, encompassing posters, paintings, banners made from paper, plastic, cloth, screen displays, electronic displays, and any other materials within point-of-sale contexts—whether internal or external to premises,” it stated.

“It is noteworthy that the Government of Pakistan is also a signatory to the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a landmark treaty that underscores the global commitment to curbing tobacco consumption and its adverse effects on public health. By taking robust action against violations of tobacco advertisement guidelines, Pakistan aligns itself with the principles enshrined in the FCTC, further solidifying its dedication to public health,” it stated.

Companies have been formally instructed to furnish written responses within a 10-day timeframe from the date of notice issuance.

“These responses are expected to address the allegations and offer a rationale for the perceived violation of the law. It is unequivocally communicated that should these tobacco manufacturers fail to provide satisfactory responses within the stipulated period, the ministry will not hesitate to take requisite legal measures. The ministry reaffirms its unwavering commitment to enforcing tobacco control laws and regulations, thus fostering a healthier environment for the populace of Pakistan,” it stated.


Source: Dawn